Beltship required a large data allowance that would cover both the operational needs of the vessels and use by crew during the three month round-trip between Brazil and China, says the London-based satellite company.
The ‘all-you-can-eat’ service was installed by Inmarsat partner AND Group and based around AND Group’s IPSignature communications software, a platform that enables access to web-based applications and provides control and visibility of each vessel’s communications and data usage.
Shore-based ship managers can supervise settings and the access given to business and crew users on board a vessel via the AND Web Portal. For example, ship managers can set up a whitelist and blacklist to prevent users from visiting inappropriate websites.
Today, all six Vale vessels managed by Beltship feature Crew Internet Cafés. The café consists of a network of PCs, pre-configured with IPSignature for access to applications such as web browsing, e-mail, SMS and instant messaging.
A mobile browser is used for web surfing to ensures that data is loaded faster that using full desktop versions.
The vessels will access the Inmarsat global mobile satellite communications services through a mix of Thrane SAILOR FB500 and Furuno FB500 terminals.
“Our vessels spend many weeks crossing the ocean, so robust, reliable communications with good throughput rates is of high importance,” says Marjolijn van Tiel, purchasing manager at Beltship.
“We had evaluated many options but, following discussions with AND Group, we realised that the combined support solution they were offering including their IPSignature software and FleetBroadband Unlimited would answer all our requirements.”
“We are already seeing the benefits. Now that the main bridge PC has unlimited internet access, it is easier for our Chief Engineers and Captains to receive real-time information to support operational decision-making.”
For example, Ms van Tiel notes that the shore offices can now send links with weather information or routing data to ships wherever they are in the world, or, in case of emergencies like a change of port, the company can forward links to the relevant charts and port information.
“This was previously impossible due to size limitations of e-mail traffic,” she adds.
AND says that crew morale also played an important role in the choice of this particular system.
“With an average of 23 officers and crew per vessel, the cost of providing free access to the internet during a voyage lasting months was a key consideration for Beltship,” said Anna Hilliard, sales manager at AND Group.
“FleetBroadband Unlimited addressed this from the outset, enabling us to offer enhanced crew services whilst being able to guarantee fixed costs, regardless of how much time they spent online.”